Pope sees IS terrorists among Syrian refugees entering Europe
Pope Francis has warned against the risk that militants could slip into Europe
under cover of a huge wave of refugees fleeing war in Syria but also said the
migrant crisis could help reawaken the continent’s conscience.
In an interview
published on Monday with the Portuguese Catholic broadcaster Radio Renascenca,
the Pope referred to the risk that Islamic State, which has killed Christians
and other minorities in the Middle East, could launch attacks in Europe.
“It’s true, I also want
to recognise that, nowadays, territorial security conditions are not the same
as they were in other periods (of mass migration),” he said in the interview.
“The truth is that just
400 kilometers (250 miles) from Sicily there is an incredibly cruel terrorist
group. So there is a danger of infiltration, this is true.” Security
specialists have said the risk that militants could be smuggled into Europe in
this way is small.
Asked if Rome could be
the target of an attack, the Pope said, “Yes, nobody said Rome would be immune
to this threat. But you can take precautions ...”
Islamic State militants
have made threats against Catholic targets in Rome that have been widely
reported and security has been stepped up in the Vatican City and other
religious sites in Italy that draw many pilgrims and tourists.
On Sept. 6, the Pope
appealed to every Catholic parish, religious community and sanctuary in Europe
to take in a family of refugees, saying he would set the example by hosting two
families in parishes inside the Vatican.
“These poor people are
fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath
that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socioeconomic system ...”
he said in the interview.
Asked if the refugee
crisis could be a positive occasion for Europe and a re-awakening of the
continent's conscience, the Pope said “it could be”. (With inputs from agencies)